The role of the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) is to enable NASA to achieve its science goals in the context of the national science agenda. SMD’s strategic decisions regarding future missions and scientific pursuits are guided by Agency goals, input from the science community, and a commitment to preserve a balanced program across the major science disciplines. Toward this end, each of the four SMD science divisions—Heliophysics, Earth Science, Planetary Science, and Astrophysics — develops fundamental science questions upon which to base future research and mission programs. Often the breakthrough science required to answer these questions requires significant technological innovation— e.g., instruments or platforms with capabilities beyond the current state of the art. SMD’s targeted technology investments fill technology gaps, enabling NASA to build the challenging and complex missions that accomplish groundbreaking science.
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Balloon-borne Investigation Provides First Simultaneous Measurements of Crucial Coronal Parameters
An observational technique first proposed more than four decades ago to measure the physical parameters of the corona that determine the formation of the solar wind—the source of disturbances in Earth’s upper atmosphere—was recently demonstrated. For the first time, a coronagraph provided crucial measurements of the density, temperature, and speed of electrons in the corona.
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